Urban Road

Restoring an icon to its former glory: The Cheshire Cat Motel

Around since the 1960s, The Cheshire Cat Motel is a Palm Beach icon. Loved by the nostalgic Gold Coast locals, it was in dire need of an upgrade. Enter husband and wife duo, Matty Roberts and Monique Luchterhand.

We watched as they tackled this huge renovation project and were amazed as we saw the 1970s meets Palm Springs transformation come to life. So of course, we just knew we had to feature it on the blog so you could all take a look around too!

Related article: Tonal Bliss: The fun and colourful Palm Springs inspired home
Related article: Palm Springs vibes with a visit to the Suncatcher House

Cheshire Cat Motel co-owner Monique Luchterhand
The Cheshire Cat Motel co-owner Monique Luchterhand of Mon Studio
Cheshire Cat Motel bedroom with textured bedhead
Photography: Andy Macpherson
Cheshire Cat Motel motel exterior
Photography: Andy Macpherson

It’s not every day you take on a motel renovation. Especially when neither of you even work in the industry!

“My husband and I have been dreaming about doing something like this for a long time,” Monique smiles.

“We picked up on the boutique hotel / motel trend that was happening in the US about 5 years ago and decided to curate a road trip around California and go and stay in some of the ones on our radar. It was such an inspiring trip so I guess you could say the seed was planted then.

“Four years later saw us move back to Queensland after living in Sydney for 13 years. We were both open to new career opportunities.

“Then we saw The Cat up for sale… it’s literally 200m up the road from where we live. We put wheels in motion for finance and here we are!”

Cheshire Cat Motel pool
Cheshire Cat Motel tan bathroom
Photography: Jack Phillips
Cheshire Cat Motel mini bar
Photography: Andy Macpherson

Built in the 1960s, The Cheshire Cat Motel has had its fair share of renovation work, yet when Matty and Monique took over, it was still in desperate need of a freshen up.

“The motel is a Palm Beach icon. Its been around since the early 60s, and the locals around here are pretty attached to ‘old Palmy’. We knew it was important to respect its history and its place in the fabric of the neighbourhood,” Monique explains. 

“The building itself was pretty run down, but structurally it was still solid… solid but wonky, haha! The previous owners renovated the rooms and bathrooms, but they were very cheaply done so we needed to replace most of that.

“I would have loved to rip out the roof and put skylights in, but we had to be realistic with our expectation to not over capitalise on our investment. The reality is it’s a 60-something-year-old building that was warped and rusted so we would never be able to make it into a high-end luxury experience.

“Instead we decided to lean in to the old charm, but make it feel fresh and modern. We also wanted to avoid having to getting council involved as much as possible, as this would have slowed us down (not to mention cost more money).

“So instead, we worked with the existing floor plan as much as possible and only made cosmetic changes. We did invest in removing some walls to open up the bathroom spaces a little, but otherwise the floor plan is exactly how its always been.”

Cheshire Cat Motel green perforated spacers at motel
Photography: Andy Macpherson
Cheshire Cat Motel dining nook
Photography: Jack Phillips

When you think of motels, you don’t usually think luxe. But that’s exactly what Matty and Monique have done with this nostalgic icon.

“My background is in fashion and interior design. Matty is also a creative, working in TV production and brand development. We loved the idea of combining our skills and creating a design-led destination experience for people,” Monique says.

“There’s nothing like it in this part of the Gold Coast and we’re incredibly proud of what we’ve achieved with The Cat.

“We wanted the interiors to be design led, but it still needed to make sense to the location. Considering the era of the building, the right vibe seemed to be 60s/70s nostalgia.

“We wanted it to feel like you were staying at your aunt’s cool beach pad in the 70s, but have all the luxuries and mod-cons of modern accommodation.

Cheshire Cat Motel floral bench seat
Photography: Jack Phillips
Cheshire Cat Motel bedroom with yellow window trim
Image by Andy Macpherson
Cheshire Cat Motel floor rug
Photography: Andy Macpherson

It’s the textiles and soft furnishings that really capture the essence of The Cheshire Cat Motel.

“I love textiles, sourcing vintage, and working with colour,” gushes Monique.

“The motel’s retro aesthetic was a great opportunity for me to lean into that. It’s a motel, not a home, so we felt it was important to make it a little bit ‘extra’ to give people a different experience.

“We definitely splurged on custom upholstery. I think these details give our space a point of difference. I’ll be the first to admit, I have expensive taste!

“Time and time again, I had to re-source and find alternatives that worked for our budget. The upside to this was that these restraints pushed me to be more creative.”

Cheshire Cat Motel green bathroom
Photography: Andy Macpherson
Cheshire Cat Motel linen bedding
Photography: Andy Macpherson

The details throughout the entire motel are a total vibe.

“The only new things to the exterior are the balustrades, gardens, fresh paint and signage,” Monique says. 

“We also added in the plunge pool. We felt that this was an essential addition to create that full holiday experience for guests.”

“I did all the interiors including the cabinetry design, bathroom / kitchen design and furniture sourcing. The idea was that I wanted it to feel nostalgic but not kitsch, so getting the right mix of furnishings was key.

“I sourced a lot of things on Marketplace… it became a bit of an obsession! It saved us a heap of money too! A lot of the art I found on Etsy after hours and hours of hunting!”

Cheshire Cat Motel signage
Photography: Andy Macpherson
Cheshire Cat Motel terracotta bathroom
Photography: Andy Macpherson

Vintage in style but modern in its technology, The Cat is unique with its contactless guest experience.

“We feel like a contactless experience is the way of the future, especially for this level of 4-star accommodation. There are so many benefits in going contactless. It keeps operation costs low. It means we don’t have to physically be there all the time, and gives guests the flexibility to check-in whenever they like.

“It’s still a fairly new concept, so we continue to work on it to make it as user friendly as possible but still have a personalised feel to it.” 

Credits
Interior design — Monique Luchterhand, Mon Studio
ArchitectPlus Architecture
BrandingACG Creative

What a place! It was so cool to look around this lovingly restored icon, and hope you enjoyed it too! If you’d like to book your own Gold Coast getaway, be sure to check The Cheshire Cat Motel website, or take a scroll through their Instagram.

More cool interiors here

Cheshire Cat Motel exterior neon sign
Photography: Andy Macpherson
Cheshire Cat Motel bedroom at motel
Photography: Jack Phillips
Cheshire Cat Motel terracotta wall basin
Image by Andy Macpherson
Gina Beschorner Style Curator

Welcome to Style Curator, your destination for daily interiors inspiration, styling tips, reno advice, home tours and DIY projects!

We're on a mission to help you create a home you love. And with plenty of tips and tricks, tutorials and other home inspo, we give you all the tools to achieve it!

I’m Gina, Founder and Interior Designer, and you can read more about Style Curator here.

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